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Pests such as rats, mice and insects can all pose a risk to food safety either by transferring disease or they can even enter the food or food source and die. Pests can contaminate food, and larger pests such as mice and rats can also gnaw cables and damage equipment.

The 3 main groups of pests are:

Rodents such as rats and mice, insects such as cockroaches, beetles, ants and flies and birds such as pigeons or seagulls.

Be aware of your working environment and ensure that you have the correct pest control measures in place while ensuring that any chemicals or products used to kill pests does not enter the food.

Appropriate fly control systems should be installed, well maintained and kept clean. Look for bodies, damage to food or packaging, scratching, noise and waste.

If you identify any problems they must be reported and resolved immediately, pest problems can result in a food business being shut down.

The best way to deal with pests is to ensure that they are excluded from your premises, this is possible in most cases by the use of the correct equipment and procedures.

Check that gaps are sealed using hard, gnaw resistant materials, cement, mortar, hard filler bush trips and fine gauge wire mesh are the most effective of materials to use to seal gaps. Check all gaps if you can push a pen through a gap then a mouse can enter.

The following are common ways that a rodent can enter your premises:-

Gaps under external doors, around pipes or cables and spaces such as those created by suspended ceilings.
With doors and windows left open, pest screens should be fitted to doors and windows that are left open regularly.

Make sure you replace all broken drains and pipes and if a toilet is not in use think about removing it and sealing the pipe.

Good housekeeping will also help to reduce the risk. Do not leave food debris on the floor or surfaces or in unsealed bags and make sure that food debris does not build up under and behind equipment.

Look out for signs of infestation, even if you employ a pest controller, look out for, rodent droppings on the floor, shelves and other surfaces, greasy smear marks along the bottom of walls, gnawed food packaging and of course rodents themselves.

Good hygiene is vital in the control of cockroaches food should be kept in airtight storage jars and any food debris or waste should be cleared up straight away.

It is important to reduce access to water, cockroaches can survive longer without food than they can without water, fix any leaks and condensation on pipes. Provide ventilation to moist areas, mop up any spillages and do not leave washing up soaking overnight. It is also important to empty refrigerator overflows trays or containers.

Remove clutter which may provide a haven for cockroaches, for example, loose wallpaper, broken tiles, papers and block any crevices cracks or holes, Wash these areas to eliminate any eggs, food materials or waste that has accumulated. Steam clean furniture if you suspect that it could be harbouring cockroaches.

Regularly vacuuming out of the way areas can suck up cockroaches, their eggs and the materials they feed on to be safe seal the dust bag in a sealed plastic bag. 

If you have identified that you have an infestation the following recommended steps should be taken:

  • Close the business until the problem has been effectively cleared from food storage, preparation and service areas. Call your pest control contractor or set up a pest control contract if you do not already have one, you need professional competent people to survey your premises and carry out any treatments that are necessary to remove the infestation.
  • Contact the Environmental Health office to report the problem and gain further advice. They will investigate and deal with any possible problems that may be caused by rodents in adjacent properties. They will not serve a hygiene emergency prohibition notice at your premises if you are not trading and posing an imminent risk to the health of your customers and are dealing with your problem correctly.
  • Dispose of any food that may have been contaminated by the mice, rats or cockroaches.

Finally, if pest activity is detected by an Environmental Health Offices at your premises you risk the business being closed by Emergency Prohibition Action. If this occurs you will lose a trade, gain bad publicity and may have to pay in excess of £1000 in costs.